Sarah Connolly (left), one of the UK’s most celebrated classical artists, will sing Lennox Berkeley’s Four Poems of St Teresa of Avila at the BBC Proms this year. The mezzo-soprano will join the Britten Sinfonia and conductor Sian Edwards in a performance of a work originally written in 1948 for Kathleen Ferrier. The concert, at 3pm on Saturday 3rd August, will take place at the Cadogan Hall just off Sloane Square. A week later Camerata Ireland, conducted by the acclaimed Irish pianist Barry Douglas, will perform the Serenade for Strings, in a programme pairing music of Benjamin Britten with that of his contemporaries. And on August 24th, the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Paul Watkins, will perform Sellinger’s Round, a set of variations on an Elizabethan theme composed by Berkeley, Britten, Arthur Oldham, Humphrey Searle, Tippett and Walton, for the coronation in 1953. The performance will include the premiere of new variations by Tansy Davies and John Woolrich. All three concerts will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and will be available for download for seven further days via bbc.co.uk/radio3. ‘We are thrilled that three of Lennox’s works feature in this year’s Proms’, said Berkeley Society chairman Petroc Trelawny. ‘They represent a spectacular return to the festival where he enjoyed so many successes, with past performances of all four symphonies, three concertos and various liturgical and other works. It’s been a decade since his music has been heard at the Proms, and this year’s Berkeley focus is another illustration of the desire of the Proms director, Roger Wright, to celebrate as fully as possible Britain’s musical heritage’.
Exciting news from Resonus Classics, the world's first solely-digital classical label. The young organist Tom Winpenny (see photo right) has just made the first recording of the complete organ works of Lennox and Michael Berkeley. The recital is given on the renowned 1962/2009 four-manual Harrison & Harrison organ at St Albans Cathedral, where Tom is Assistant Master of the Music and organist of the daily choral services. Among the ten tracks are two world premiere recordings – Impromptu (1941) by Lennox Berkeley and Sonata (1979) by Michael Berkeley – plus Three Pieces for Organ Op. 72 No. 1 and Fantasia Op. 92 by Lennox, Wild Bells (1986) by Michael, and Andantino, arranged by Jennifer Bate from Lennox's Festival Anthem. Tom Winpenny began organ lessons under John Scott Whiteley while a chorister at York Minster, and continued as a Music Scholar at Eton College, and as Organ Scholar at Worcester Cathedral, St George's Chapel, Windsor, and King's College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a degree in music. His recording (Resonus RES10104) and an attractive and comprehensive booklet (including notes by Andrew Benson, photos of Berkeley father and son and of Tom Winpenny, with photos of the Harrison organ and its specification) will be available for download from Wednesday 1 May at http://www.resonusclassics.com/berkeley-organ-works
The music of Lennox Berkeley features prominently in the forthcoming London English Song Festival, founded and run by pianist William Vann (see photo left), Director of Music at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, and a luminary of the first Berkeley Days at the Royal Academy of Music. The festival starts with a choral concert at the Royal Hospital on Thursday 2 May, and then moves to the Forge, Camden, for three recitals. There are also two ‘Bring a Song’ sessions for amateur singers, providing a chance to perform in a workshop situation in the wonderful Forge acoustic. The second concert at the Forge, on Sunday 5 May, will include Berkeley's Three Greek Songs (which Vann performed with the mezzo soprano Katie Bray, another RAM graduate, at the Machynlleth Music Club on 12 April), Another Spring, ‘Late Spring’ from Five Chinese Songs and the Sonatina for solo guitar. Tickets for the Berkeley recital are available from www.forgevenue.org/whats-on or direct from Will Vann at firstname.lastname@example.org. See the LBS Diary for full details of the LESF programme.
An important premiere recording of Lennox Berkeley’s complete music for solo violin and violin with piano has just been published by the independent and long-established Australian classical music label, Move Records. The artists are the distinguished English violinist Edwin Paling, formerly Concertmaster of the Royal Scottish Symphony Orchestra and now Head of Strings at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, and the Australian pianist Arabella Teniswood-Harvey, who teaches piano, music history and art theory at the University of Tasmania. The programme of seven works starts with the Violin Sonata No. 1, which Berkeley wrote in 1931 while still studying in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. Considering the confidence and strength of this short work in three movements it is astonishing that it has never been published. Paling and Teniswood-Harvey worked from a photocopy of the autograph score in the British Library, with the scholarly assistance of Professor Peter Dickinson and Dr Nicolas Bell. Like the Sonatina Op 17 (1942), the first Sonata is dedicated to Berkeley's elderly friend and admirer, the violin-playing Gladys Bryans. The programme ends with the Sonata No 2 (1932) which is dedicated to Mlle Boulanger, and shows more of the influence of Stravinsky (whose son Soulima was a friend of Berkeley and a fellow Boulanger student). It must have been a challenging programme to learn, and the warm and vivid recording captures the exceptionally high quality of the playing. The accompanying booklet includes two photos of Berkeley, young and old, and a cover painting by Alison Lazaroff-Somssich, who plays violin in the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. The CD (MD 3361) is available online at Buywell Just Classical or Australian Music Centre, price $25AUD. For more information visit
Seventy-seven years after it was first inspired by Catalan folk dancing at a festival of contemporary music in Barcelona, the vivid and masterly orchestral suite Mont Juic, composed jointly by Lennox Berkeley and Benjamin Britten, is to be given five performances by the European Union Youth Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy next month. The first performance will be in Interlaken, the others in Spain, including one on Friday 12 April in Barcelona itself, in one of the most wildly extravagant concert halls in the world, the Palau de la Música Catalana. Berkeley and Britten first heard the folk melodies on which the suite is based, and indeed first met, while representing British music at the 1936 Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music. Both young men were bowled over by Catalan folk dancing, especially by the national sardana, which Lennox described as "tremendously exciting ... it remains as vivid in my memory as anything that took place in the festival itself" - and on returning to London they drew together the melodies they had jotted down, without ever letting on who had written what. The Berkeley Society has made a grant towards these performances.
One of Lennox Berkeley's most beautiful and moving works, his setting of Four Poems of St Teresa of Avila, is to be sung by Catherine Wyn-Rogers with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Stephen Cleobury, at a concert in the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge, on the evening of Good Friday, and recorded by Radio Three for transmission at a later date. Berkeley wrote the songs for Kathleen Ferrier just after the war. The words of the four poems express St Teresa's ecstatic faith, and Berkeley matches them with music of quiet passion and intensity. Catherine Wyn-Rogers, who sang the St Teresa Poems in the much-applauded Chandos recording made by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by the late Richard Hickox, is the latest in a long line of distinguished British contraltos who have brought their own distinction to this profoundly affecting work. Dame Janet Baker, who sang the set in 1960, said years later that Berkeley's sublime settings had left an impression which she would never forget. The Berkeley Society has made a grant towards this performance. (For further details of the concert see our events diary.)
The composer and broadcaster Michael Berkeley, C.B.E. (eldest son of Sir Lennox, and a Patron of the Lennox Berkeley Society) is to be made an independent peer in the House of Lords, to increase its representation of the arts in general and music in particular. As a composer, Michael has written for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the BBC Proms and the Royal Ballet, and has been commissioned to write an anthem for the enthronement on March 21 of Justin Welby as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. As a broadcaster he has presented Private Passions on Radio Three for the past eighteen years, interviewing some 800 guests including artist David Hockney, Sir David Attenborough and Elvis Costello. "Michael is not only an accomplished composer", said Radio Three Controller Roger Wright, "but also an expert communicator, not least reflected in his ability to have engaging and insightful conversations with his guests. This recognition of his place in our society is hugely deserved." As a boy, Michael Berkeley was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral. He studied composition, singing and piano at the Royal Academy of Music and won the Guinness Prize for Composition in 1977. He was artistic director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music for ten years, and is a former chairman of the governors of the Royal Ballet.
Having mourned the passing of the pianists Colin Horsley, one of our Patrons, and Raphael Terroni, the Society ends the year with the sad news of the death, at the age of 76, of another of our Patrons, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, CBE. He was a pupil of Lennox Berkeley at the Royal Academy of Music, but teacher and pupil proved to be incompatible, since Richard was at that time interested in serialism, later studying with Pierre Boulez as influenced by his first teacher, Elizabeth Lutyens. Richard was a most prolific composer and ranged from classical orchestral, chamber, operatic and sacred works to numerous film scores, jazz and cabaret songs, moving to the U.S.A. when he felt out of sympathy with his musical life in this country, prestigious though it was. However, he retained an affection for Lennox, and the Society was delighted to welcome him back from the U.S.A. at last year's Berkeley Day at the R.A.M., where he spoke eloquently of his early studies, and the concert programme included his Summer Music. He was also an accomplished pianist and vocalist - in fact, one stands in awe of his many achievements and accomplishments.